No need to consult a calendar, you can feel it in the air – autumn is here and winter is tip-toing around the corner. The change in season inevitably brings about an increase in colds and flus and the best way to avoid catching these infectious fun-spoilers is by bolstering our natural immunity. We can do this through exercise and ensuring we top up our stores of immune-supporting vitamins and minerals through good food and/or high quality supplements. And with Covid-19 is still very much in the community, the importance of maintaining a robust immune system, as we head into the colder months, has never been more important.
We’ve drawn on our many decades working in pharmaceutical healthcare to compile our Top 5 list of vitamins and minerals you need to beat the lurgy this flu season:
The best thing to do when you feel a cold or flu coming on is to step outside and let your skin soak up some glorious sunshine. Try it – not only will it warm you up, you’ll also start to feel a little brighter. The reason? Exposure to the sun is the primary way our bodies produce the health-restoring Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is actually a type of hormone that helps promote the body’s immune and neuromuscular systems. It plays an important part in management of immune cells and also works to reduce inflammation in the body.
One study conducted by researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine found that people with healthy levels of Vitamin D (concentrations of 38 ng/ml or more) enjoyed a two-fold reduction in the risk of developing acute respiratory tract infections as well as a marked reduction in the percentages of days they were ill with cold and flu.
Rich sources of Vitamin D: Safe sun exposure on bare skin (min. 30 minutes a day), cod liver oil, egg yolks from free range chickens allowed ample sun exposure, Vitamin D supplements.
Several studies have shown that Vitamin E deficiency, particularly in the Aged, leads to a decrease in the immune response. And conversely, when Vitamin E supplements are taken by those with a known deficiency, the body’s natural immune response increases.
A clinical review conducted in 2018 found several studies that supported the beneficial effects of Vitamin E. In one study male smokers who took regular high-dose Vitamin E supplements were 69% less likely to develop pneumonia after a bout of cold or flu. Another study featured in the review, found that elderly nursing home residents showed fewer upper respiratory infections and lower incidence of common cold after regularly taking Vitamin E supplements.
Vitamin E plays a vital role in regulating immature T cells. T cells are important for immunity as they protect the body from pathogens and activate immune cells to fight off infections when they enter the body.
Rich sources of Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, wheat germ oil, avocado, trout and salmon, pine nuts, Vitamin E supplements.
Zinc is an often-overlooked mineral that deserves more time in the cold-and-flu-busting limelight. Zinc ensures cells in our immune system communicate with each other and it also boosts the activity of macrophage and natural killer cells. Natural killer cells are responsible for binding to virus-infected cells, and well as tumour cells, and essentially killing them off. A handy thing to have in your biological arsenal leading into flu season.
A recent 2021 study review, conducted by scientists from the University of New South Wales, found that, “…in relevant studies where high doses of ionic zinc were used, a clear reduction in cold duration of 42% was calculated.”
Authors of the study concluded that, “…zinc treatment applied at a therapeutic dose and in the right form has the potential to drastically improve the clearance of both chronic and acute viral infections, as well as their accompanying pathologies and symptoms.”
Rich sources of Zinc: red meat, oysters and other shellfish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, whole grains, Zinc supplements.
While it’s known that Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections, to date, noformal clinical study has been able to show that high level Vitamin C reduces the incidence of colds. That said, there are several studies that show the Vitamin greatly reduces the severity and duration of a cold or flu, once contracted.
A review of the evidence conducted by the Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Disease studied 21 clinical trials and in each of the 21 studies, Vitamin C reduced the duration of episodes and the severity of the symptoms of the common cold by an average of 23%.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and protects the body against oxidative stress. It plays a key role in modulating the immune response. It works to kill off harmful microbes and pathogens while simultaneously protecting the host tissue from excessive damage.
Rich sources of Vitamin C: kakadu plum, chillies and capsicum, blackcurrants, rose hips, guava, kiwi fruit, broccoli, cherries, lemons, lychees, thyme, Vitamin C supplements.
One of the symptoms of low Selenium is poor immune function, and when taken by people with low levels, Selenium supplementation has been proven to have antiviral effects.
Selenium helps fight infections and is essential to our antioxidant defence system as well as the health and robustness of our immune system.
The amount of Selenium we get from our food depends largely on where we live and where our food was grown or grazed. For example, soils in the U.S. are high in Selenium while soils in New Zealand are relatively low. In Australia, Selenium-deficient soils have been identified in south-west Western Australia and coastal Queensland, as well as parts of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Sandy, acidic basalt or granite soils are usually low in trace minerals including Selenium. For this reason, people who live in areas of Selenium-deficient soils may need to take Selenium supplements to ensure their Selenium stores are adequate to fight off colds and flus.
Rich sources of Selenium: Brazil nuts, fish, red meat, poultry, eggs, sunflower seeds, brown rice, mushrooms, Selenium Supplements
Note from National Custom Compounding: We have over 15 years experience compounding high quality Vitamin and Mineral supplements to help people improve the health of their immune systems. The ingredients we use are of the highest quality and we can combine multiple supplements in one tablet pill or troche to make administration that much easier.
For more information contact National Custom Compounding on 1300 731 755 or [email protected]